Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there reading this!

I’m the rare, lucky person who gets a second chance at having a dad and being a daughter. I was adopted at 2 weeks of age, and the dad who raised me passed a few years ago, sadly, from cancer. But, with my unwavering bff Marovich at my side, I was fortunate enough to meet my entire bio-family (3 full-blooded siblings, and both parents) the day after I turned 40 in Albuquerque, NM, so today I’ll be celebrating later with my bio-dad and my brother Vince.

From my bio-dad, I inherited:

  • My laid back, easy-going attitude
  • My affinity for talking easily with anyone in any walk of life, and making lasting friends wherever I go
  • My unhesitating willingness to give a total stranger the shirt off my back, if asked. (Hopefully, if that occurs, I’m wearing a sports bra and we’re not in a public setting.)
  • A low tolerance for elitists

And since it’s Father’s Day, below my bio-dad Tom Turner’s pic, I must post my all-time favorite picture of Dave and Jack. It was a tender moment taken unbeknownst to them at Mike Ensley’s show, PensaCon, by my photographer friend, Fred Turnbow, whom I first met when I formed the still-active Production Services Association of Northwest Florida. (Fred and his family joined us and film commissioner friend Tom Roush for an unforgettable dinner one night with Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon.) Without further adieu, pics!

Me, Dad (Tom Turner) and My Brother Vince June 2017

Dave & Jack at PensaCon 4 years ago. Photo by Fred Turnbow. Sitting next to the Space Ghost Coast to Coast Voice Actor.

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RIP, MIA

If I had to name a theme, I’d characterize the last 14 months as heartbreak and loss. I sure hope it ends soon.

Last weekend we memorialized my friend Mia, who died way too young unexpectedly–at age 42–from mistakes made during surgery. While I cried for all of us, I cried especially hard for my cousin Becky. She and Mia were next-door neighbors and best friends since childhood. Becky wept for an entire week. How she, or anyone, found the strength to eulogize Mia last weekend, I will never know. Again, it’s something I can never do because I totally lose it. But, I wanted to share some thoughts about Mia here.

Becky & Mia, BFFs.

Becky & Mia, BFFs.

Mia and her brother Chris (my cousin Jeff’s best childhood friend) were both adopted at a young age. Since I spent so much time at the family farm, they became my extended cousins. I remember as a child being so excited to meet Mia and Chris, because I was the only adopted child I knew. Although I never said it aloud, I always felt a special kinship with Mia and Chris. Adoptees carry the albatross of an inner monologue for which the rest of the world is simply unaware. We are always asking ourselves “Why?”

The lasting impression we all have of Mia is that of her smile. It would bathe the coldest, darkest room in the brightest of light. I loved her wit and sarcasm, and the way she and Becky–like true sisters–were always busting each other’s balls. It was always so much fun being with them.

Mia and Becky - smiles like sunbeams.

Mia and Becky – smiles like sunbeams.

In the photos Mia’s family shared of her during the service, there was only one where she wasn’t smiling. We learned that it was her photo from the orphanage in Korea. Later, at Mott’s Lounge, Becky told me how Mia always had problems with her one wrist. Finally, as an adult, Mia saw a doctor about it, who asked her, “Were you ever in an orphanage?” She confirmed it, surprised the doctor would know that. He told her it was common to see this wrist malfunction in children who stood hanging onto their cribs for hours on end in an orphanage. It’s no wonder that was the only photo where Mia wasn’t smiling. Becky wishes the doctor had never told Mia that, adding one more dark thread to her life’s tapestry.

Since Mia passed and was buried in Colorado, a tree was planted at the cemetery just down the road from my uncle’s farm. This is the same cemetery where my uncle, my adoptive dad, and my other relatives are buried.

The gravestone that took 10 months to get finished, all because I demanded there be a lower case "C" in McDonald and it fouled up their stonecutting logistics.

My dad’s gravestone that took 10 months to get finished, all because I demanded there be a lower case “c” in McDonald and it fouled up their stonecutting logistics. I’m still unhappy with the size of the “c.”

My cousin Jeff, his wife Janell and I made the mistake of standing together at the tree planting portion of the service. In retrospect, we should have realized this error in judgement. An elderly gentleman standing in front of us punctuated everything the pastor said with a resounding fart. I started giggling with my hand over my mouth, muffling the sound. My shoulders were shaking, and I hoped it would be mistaken for weeping. It was not. Knowing me all too well, Jeff glanced over at me, saw my shoulders shaking, and it was GAME OVER, MAN!

Jeff, Janell, and I briskly walked far away from within hearing distance, to find my father’s grave and not have our cackles overheard. We didn’t want to convey any irreverence to Mia, but truth be told, I could feel her standing with us, doubled over, laughing. Soon Becky and her husband Sean weren’t far behind us, in the same state. Whenever we all get together, we are groupthink reduced to the mindset of a 13-year-old boy. It feels good to return to that happy place, where we are all still untouched and not yet pummeled by life and heartbreaking loss. It just feels good.

 

Thank You, Dad

Christmas, 2013. Dad and Jack.

Christmas, 2013. Dad and Jack.

Thank You, Dad…

Thank you, Dad, for adopting me, and for always carrying me high on your shoulders, making my three-year-old self feel like a tall princess. I can still remember the feeling of patting the top of your head, your dark hair stiff with the Aqua Net Mom liberally sprayed to make it lay right.

Thank you for building me that beautiful play house, and the rabbit hutch, and the cage to protect my menagerie of cats, and the homemade ice rinks, the zip line across the yard, and the swing on the tall oak. The Japanese bridge you built across our creek was your true coup de grace.

Thank you for building me my first corner desk with matching bookcases. They were your gift to me for my eighth birthday. I spent hours sitting behind that desk learning to draw and write. I hope my younger self had enough awareness to tell you at some point how much I treasured it.

Thank you for demonstrating your steadfast faith, in your own quiet way, through your many acts of service.

Thank you for all of those camping trips, for passing on your joy for adventure and your fearless knack for finding the back roads route to any destination.

Thank you, Dad, for always providing for us. You never let on how dire things really were until later in life. Because of your hard work and your lifetime of holding down two jobs, we never missed a Christmas, or summer road trips out west, and by some miracle, you even got me through college, saving me from the burden of student loans.

Thank you for always being the only volunteer to take those long horseback rides with me on our family vacations.

Thank you for teaching me to fish, and more importantly, how to clean a fish.

Thank you for getting up in the middle of the night so many times to drive this bratty 16-year-old home from my closing shifts at McDonald’s.

Thank you for teaching me to waltz.

Thank you, Dad, for helping me pick up the pieces during my many failed attempts at adulthood.

Thank you for being such a wonderful grandfather to Jack. He has watched you age with dignity, and you’ve taught him well how to respect the vulnerable among us.

I told someone just this past weekend that I was “adopted into the right family for me,” but that comment is more profound at this moment, knowing now that our time together is so finite.

I fucking HATE cancer.

Flip Cancer - by Michael Gross http://www.flipcancer.com/who-we-are/

Flip Cancer – by Michael Gross http://www.flipcancer.com/who-we-are/